It’s never too late to create an awesome experience for your customers with branding. Whether you’re just getting started with an online store, or you’ve been creating for years, you can always improve your process to create long-lasting relationships and experiences with clients and partners with branding.
I’ll admit that I’m an online shopping junkie; I buy products online more regularly than I care to admit. But when I buy directly from a small business, like a maker, there are certain aspects that make the experience more special than shopping at a large company like, let’s say, Amazon.
Before you start evaluating where you can improve your branding, you have to know what branding is. Unfortunately many people confuse branding with only being the design elements, which is incorrect. Per Entrepreneur, your brand is your promise to your customers.
To succeed as an organization, you have to really understand your branding (and I mean REALLY understand it). Ask yourself the following questions, and BE SPECIFIC…
1. How does my branding make people feel?
2. When someone interacts with my brand, how do they feel?
3. What does my brand offer customers?
4. How is my branding different from competitors?
5. What kind of person is interested in my product?
6. What is my organization’s mission?
Remember that your brand should speak clearly to your target market. You are doing your brand a disservice if your branding appeals to everyone; by appealing to everyone you are speaking to no one.
Once you start honing into your brand, other organizational elements will start to come together. You’ll also be able to make decisions and take action in a much more timely fashion, like how you would handle complaints from customers and evaluate sponsorship opportunities.
Below are some additional brand elements that you should consider when developing your brand experience:
Providing extraordinary service is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Our experiences in big box stores have become incredibly generic, and as a society we are looking for those more personal, customized experiences.
The problem with online shopping is that the experience is limited; you can’t greet your customers with a friendly hello or offer to help them find a product. But what you can do is provide stellar service the second a client engages, and keep that contact until they receive the product (and sometimes even beyond). Below are some ways you can incorporate the experience into your brand:
Set expectations clearly in your store description or product listing so clients understand how quickly they can anticipate to hear back from you. If you are going on vacation, or are unable to fill orders for a specific period of time, share this in obvious places within your store. Then, when a customer reaches out to you with a question, answer within the expectation you set.
Communicate with the customers about their product. Let them know that you received their order and that their product has shipped. Follow up with them to see how they like your product and, if possible, ask for photos that you can use in your own marketing efforts.
From your logo to your font to your brand’s voice to your photos, your brand elements are what your customers will be drawn to online, with the most important piece of advice being consistency. Make sure that all of your social outlets and advertisements accurately reflect what your online shop is sharing. A customer should recognize your shop’s presence when they stumble across it.
When it comes to a logo (or any design work), we would recommend using a graphic designer to help you create a style kit. This style kit includes your brand’s colors, fonts, and logos. Style kits are great resources to help you take the guess work out of developing marketing materials for your brand.
If you are unable to use a graphic designer, then you can create your own brand guidelines and logo, but be sure to keep things simple. This blog from Oh My! Handmade Goodness shares some resources you can use to get those branding elements down: http://ohmyhandmade.com/2013/diy-branding/october-on-omhg-diy-design/
Product photos are an often-overlooked step for products, but it is the most crucial piece. Fuzzy, dark, or un-defined photographs will not win over new customers. We have put together a list of photography tips to help you take awesome photos that’ll woo potential customers to your online shop: http://aftcra.com/blog/blog/5-product-photography-tips-to-make-your-products-wow/
It sounds silly, but when I receive a product from a maker I get unreasonably giddy because I cannot wait to see what kind of little details they included. I love when I order a product from a maker and it arrives in a nice box, wrapped in tissue, tied with a string, and has a little note about how the maker hopes I enjoy the product. I’m not suggesting that you spend north of $5 on each shipment, but I do strongly suggest that you think about how you want your brand to makes others feel when they open their shipment. Make it happen, and be consistent.
This article about packaging is a great introduction into the basics of how to make your product look great: http://www.hollywouldblvd.com/2014/05/online-shop-packaging-basics-what-you.html
As small business owners, what other pieces of advice would you give to someone that’s new to the scene or looking for a change?